Aug. 26, 2008
CLEVELAND - The Northern Illinois men's soccer team has been picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference by the league's head coaches, Commissioner Rick Chryst announced Tuesday.
"It's an honor that over the last several years our program has garnered such respect from the other coaches in the MAC," Head Coach Steve Simmons said.
Akron, ranked 12th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of American Preseason Poll, was predicted to win its second-straight regular season championship. The Zips also took six of seven votes to capture the tournament title. Northern Illinois was followed by Buffalo, Hartwick and Bowling Green. League newcomer Florida Atlantic was tabbed sixth, one spot ahead of Western Michigan.
"We learned firsthand last year how tough the conference can be, and I expect it to be just as difficult in 2008," Simmons said.
The Huskies return six starters and 17 letterwinners from a 2007 team that lost a double-overtime thriller in the MAC tournament semifinal to No. 17 Akron and picked up a banner win over No. 9 Northwestern. The poll marks the third consecutive year the Huskies have been predicted to finish second in the league behind Akron. In 2006, NIU won the MAC regular season and tournament titles after being projected second-place finishers. Last season, the Huskies finished fifth in the conference.
Northern Illinois opens the 2008 season at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic this weekend. The Huskies face IUPUI Friday at 5 p.m. and take on San Francisco Sunday at noon.
2008 MAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
2. Northern Ilinois
5. Bowling Green
6. Florida Atlantic
7. Western Michigan
Tournament Champion: Akron (6), Western Michigan (1)